Where I live, there is a road called Albany Road. It’s super busy with lots of supermarkets and green grocers, and the pavements aren’t wide so it is a real nightmare, especially in my wheelchair. There is one big reason I think it is worth braving the crowds for though- it has lots and lots of charity shops.
Charity shops (or thrift stores if you’re American), in my opinion, are under-estimated. My favourite shop is Tenevous. I wanted to go to Albany road to buy some new records (which I collect), some vibrant material (to make purses and bows), and some new patterned crockery, I managed to get all three for a grand total of …£4!
Charity shop shopping is perfect for:
- Cheap clothes to make in to costumes or even just to buy as a costume.
- Ball dresses– people donate their wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and ball dresses- all of which you can customize or wear just as they are. For my first sixth form ball my mummy found me a dress that was absolutely gorgeous, we bought it for £5 but it must orginially have cost hundreds. Not only did I know I would have a unique dress, which looked vintage and expensive, but it meant I could spend lots more on my accessories.
- Finding material to make new things- buy tablecloths, curtains and even clothes in great patterns
- Pretty wallpaper to use as wrapping paper, to make giftbags, to make cards, or to use as draw liners
- Anything vintage– clothes, coats, and especially jewelry and crockery, my coffee cup and saucer was only 50p and it is really pretty, the photos don’t do it justice. When I went to university, I didn’t want to buy a proper dinner set because I was afraid that someone might drop my crockery by accident, which would make me really sad, so my mummy and searched charity shops for mix max vintage plates, bowls, etc. A couple of months later, I read about a very fashionable London teashop which was famous for using vintage mix max crockery, right on trend- you read it here first.
- Books– there are always classics and you’d be surprised how many people donate books only published within the last few weeks. As a student, I’ve also found textbooks there, barely used and at a fraction of the price. Oxfam have stores devoted just books in, they usually have a store in cities with universities so try and get your textbooks there before you buy on Amazon.
- Records– actual record shops sell vintage ones for lots more than charity shops. You can’t be certain you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for but if, like me, you just want to collect ones with pretty covers or are just looking for anything you would like then charity shops will definitely be cheaper. I bought four records for £1 on Friday.
- Vintage fabrics– I bought some great vintage duvet covers and tablecloths for my flat.
- Furniture-there are now charity shops devoted entirely to furniture. You can buy new and used furniture and electrics, great to buy either vintage or furniture to do up, but everything is already good enough to use just as you buy them. The stores usually deliver for a small charge too. Lots of my student friends bought cheap tellys for their living rooms, they are absolutely ancient but a television for £10 for a student living room is a bargain.
- Children’s clothes– my mummy said that she bought most of my clothes from charity shops when I was a baby and in to my toddler years. Children grow so fast, you’re constantly needing to buy new clothes. This means that baby clothes are always in good condition in charity shops, you never get much of a chance to use them all; and baby’s are expensive, getting clothes from charity shops really saves you a lot of money.
- Toys, games and soft toys– there’s always an abundance, I’ve got lots of good games, puzzles, etc from charity shops. Sometimes a couple of pieces are missing but ,on the whole, I think most charity shops are a bit picky about what they take in now.
And my last top tip: if you can, go to charity shops in particularly affluent areas, they always have immaculate clothes from expensive or designer shops. The best thing about charity-shop-shopping though, is that you can buy great stuff, much cheaper than vintage stores, and you’re helping to raise money for great causes. Hope this has inspired you to have a wander down to your local charity shops, let me know if you find any treasures.
For easy things to make with stuff that can be bought from charity shops or things lying around your house, keep reading, there will be home made gift projects coming soon.